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Pickford hails 'brilliant' England boss Southgate as Qatar edges closer
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Cian Cheesbrough
LiveScore
Jordan Pickford has hailed England manager Gareth Southgate
Jordan Pickford has hailed England manager Gareth Southgate

Jordan Pickford has leapt to the defence of "brilliant" England boss Gareth Southgate and insists the Three Lions will head to the World Cup full of confidence.

The Qatar showpiece kicks off on November 20, with England currently enduring a six-game winless run.

They kick off their campaign against Iran on November 21 before further group clashes with USA and Wales.

Southgate’s men reached the semi-final at the 2018 World Cup before going one further at Euro 2020, but their troubled recent form has cast doubt over their potential to be contenders in the Middle East.

But speaking to the PA news agency, Pickford, 28, said: "Gareth is a brilliant manager.

"We will go to the World Cup positive. We will give it our best shot and hopefully bring the cup home.

"I think for us it is about making the nation proud and doing our best in the tournament.

"We know what we are capable of doing and we have great squad togetherness.

"Togetherness gets you so far, so I think if we haven’t won in six, it is not the end of the world and we will still be going to Qatar as positive as anything after the last two tournaments."

England are on a six-game winless streak ahead of the World Cup
England are on a six-game winless streak ahead of the World Cup

Raring to go

Everton goalkeeper Pickford has starred for England during their last two tournaments but has missed his country’s last four games due to rotation and an injury.

But with the stopper now fighting fit ahead of Qatar, he expressed his eagerness to pull on a Three Lions jersey again.

He added: "I can’t wait. I was injured for the last camp, which was unfortunate, but I have got myself fit and I am raring to go.

"I am playing for Everton again now so in a good run of form leading up to the World Cup and looking forward to the World Cup itself.

"We played the Nations League and, you know, we are playing Italy, the Euro champions, Hungary are a very good side so that is what the Nations League is good for, because you are playing in competitive matches.

"As a footballer you are never going to win every game. You want to win every game but you can’t win them all and the run we’ve had with England over the last four to five years has been sensational.

"Yeah, the results haven’t gone our way but we will rectify that come the World Cup."

Terrific Toffees

Everton defenders James Tarkowski and Conor Coady have bolstered their England hopes
Everton defenders James Tarkowski and Conor Coady have bolstered their England hopes

While Pickford is nailed on for a spot in Southgate’s squad if fit, he could be joined on the plane by plenty of his Toffees team-mates.

Conor Coady, another squad regular, has impressed alongside James Tarkowski in defence, while Anthony Gordon and Dominic Calvert-Lewin are staking their claims for a place.

Pickford added: "We have some great English talent at Everton.

"We don’t really talk about it because our sole focus is on Everton at the time being and putting in good performances for Everton can only give each other a chance for the World Cup or future times with England."

The Merseyside club head to Fulham on Saturday looking to build on an encouraging start to their Premier League campaign.

Frank Lampard’s men recently went six games unbeaten before narrow defeats to Manchester United, Tottenham and Newcastle, but bounced back with an impressive 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace last weekend.

On their form, Pickford added: "The manager [Lampard] is really good. His staff around him are brilliant as well.

"We have great chemistry around the place. We have an enjoyment about our work but we work hard and it is a great environment.

"We are a big club with a lot of history behind us but us as players want to create our own history."

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